Author: Alex Dudley
The Breeders’ Cup is fast approaching, with the prestigious event getting underway on the 1st November. However, one of the most intriguing races of the weekend is the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which takes place on the 2nd November, and the leading pick among punters at this early stage is Battaash.
The competition will be fierce for the race, but the British trained five-year-old for Charles Hills looks to be the one to beat.
No European horse has ever won this race, but it would seem that there has never been a contender quite like Battaash. The only question that lingers is over his behaviour, but it would seem incredibly unlikely that his connections would be willing to make the trip unless they believed that he could overcome that.
This season has been a memorable one for Hills and Battaash. The step-up in level hasn’t phased the five-year-old, and instead, we have seen the very best of him. He made his season debut in May at Haydock, where he held off Alpha Delphini to win by two and a half lengths. However, he then went to Ascot for the festival, where his only defeat of the season was to over. He fought brilliantly in tough conditions at the festival but was unable to maintain the challenge put down by Blue Point. In the end, he lost by one and a quarter lengths to his old foe.
That marked the second straight year that he has fallen to Blue Point. But, while his rival headed for retirement in a blaze of glory, Battaash continued to amaze punters on the track. After six weeks off the track, he headed to Goodwood, where he won the Group 2 King George Qatar Stakes. He held off tough competition in that race and beat Houtzen by three-quarters of a length. This win was followed up with another success at York in late August for the Nunthorpe Stakes.
At York, we got to see how boisterous Battaash can get before races, as Jim Cowley had to saddle him very early before the beginning. He was worked up even still, but he was still able to travel comfortably and win by nearly four lengths over Soldier’s Call. Battaash started sluggishly in this particular race, before taking control as he entered the final two furlongs. Once he got his nose in front, the result never looked in danger, and he even set a course record of 55:90. This broke the record that was set 29 years earlier by Dayjur.
The form of Battaash really couldn’t be any better before he travels to the States, but whether he can remain calm on the long journey is the real question. This undoubtedly will be the issue that determines whether he will win the Breeders’ Cup 2019 Turf Sprint or not. But, he is certainly a contender to break the European hoodoo on the race.
World of Trouble
The leading hope for the USA is four-year-old World of Trouble. The Jason Servis trained horse has enjoyed a dominant season with wins at Aqueduct, Churchill Downs and Belmont Park. Aside from his victory at Churchill Downs, he has needed to work hard towards the end of the race, but he remains in with a chance at the Breeders Cup.
This seven-year-old has endured a difficult season with third and fifth place finishes at Del Mar and Kentucky Downs respectively. He also hasn’t won a race since 2018, but the form in that particular season means that he has a chance. In 2018 he won four consecutive races, but he has been unable to match that form in 2019. If he should rediscover this standard, then he will have a chance.